Sunday, April 26, 2015

YBA Alumni Profiles: Prof. Yedidia Stern, YBA Nachal Yitzchak, Nechalim

"In the Diaspora, some Jews choose, by omission or commission, to ignore the pull of Jewish particularism on their lives. They dilute their Jewish identity to such an extent that their offspring may lose any connection to the Jewish people within a generation or two. Our biblical forebears lost the ten tribes; we today are losing significant portions of Diaspora Jewry. While the circumstances of the two cases differ radically, the result for the Jewish people is the same.

"In Israel, by contrast, the vast majority of Jews choose to emphasize their Jewishness. Significantly, the most prominent characteristic of Israeli Jewish identity—whether religious or secular, Ashkenazi or Sephardi, rich or poor, immigrant or long-settled—is a natural tendency toward a soft Jewish nationalism and a soft Jewish traditionalism. The various groups in Israeli society are deeply divided on many issues—including crucial questions of religion and state, security and peace, society and economy—and the public arena in Israel rages around these issues constantly. Israelis are even divided over their vision for the state of Israel itself. Nevertheless, almost all of us share a common last name: nationalistic and traditional." Why do Israelis choose Jewish particularism over “rootless cosmopolitanism”? "The answer is two-part: the first general, the second specific. Both touch on the meaning of life."

Read the entire article "The Spirit of Jewish Particularism," in Mosaic Magazine, April 20,2015

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Prof. Yedidia Stern, the head of the Israel Democracy Institute’s religion and state project and a professor at the Law Faculty at Bar-Ilan University, said that it was time for a new approach to the relationship of the state to the haredi community.

Stern said that the next government should reexamine how it deals with the central projects of increasing haredi participation in the military, introducing core curriculum studies to the haredi education system, increasing the participation of haredi men in the work force, and, critically, increasing haredi economic productivity.

Read the entire interview with Prof. Stern, "The ultra-Orthodox - Israel’s next 'economic miracle?'" by Jeremy Sharon, in the Jerusalem Post, April 24, 2015

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